After a more than three-decade run as BJ's Carousel, Denver's longest-running gay bar closed last July. Jason Tietjen, who'd worked at the Candlelight Tavern for the last decade, took over the spot and gutted the place from top to bottom.
Now, after many months of work, the Dive Inn is finally open, and Tietjen will hold a grand opening celebration on Saturday, May 19.
Tietjen and partners Chris and Rhonda Signorelli (owners of Rome's Saloon) have lightened up the space considerably by installing five garage door windows in various spots; they've also added 2,500 square feel of patio.
The bar's nautical theme was inspired by Tietjen's many trips to Cozumel when he was a teenager; he'd opened a dive shop there right after high school. All of the doors, which are brand-new, have portholes. Photos of deep-sea fishing trips adorn the back room, which also includes foosball and pool tables, as well as a second bar. Tietjen eventually plans to add a third bar, too.
In keeping with the Cozumel theme, Tietjen is painting the front of the kitchen to resemble a taco truck, and he hopes to have a taqueria up and running by the grand opening.
The exterior of the building was painted battleship gray, and Tietjen plans to paint the number 45 on the top right corner of the bar as a tribute to the USS Colorado. There's even a fishing boat next to the sunken bar -- a last remnant of the spot's days as BJ's. At that bar, outlets have been installed between the bar stools so that people can power up, and the bar will have a bucketful of cell-phone chargers in case folks forget theirs. "We really focused on attention to detail. It was very important to me," Tietjen says.
"We were just trying to create something unique and fun and super-comfortable and make you feel like you're in a different place," he continues. "I've been telling everybody it's a neighborhood bar on a busy street. We're really going for a super-fun atmosphere."
To add to the fun, there are sixteen TVs scattered throughout the three rooms; Tietjen says Dive Inn will be showing all the big sporting events. He also promises lots of weekly activities: open mike nights on Mondays, along with corn hole, pool and foosball leagues. On Saturdays and Sundays, Dive Inn will host Detox to Retox yoga classes before the bar opens. And any women wearing bikinis on Saturdays and Sundays get to drink free from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
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Eventually, he plans to equip the patio with misters as well as projectors, so that he can show movies on the brick wall during Drive in at the Dive Inn.
But while there are still plenty of things in the works, at least Dive Inn managed to open before summer: Tietjen says that the city held up construction for about four months because of permitting problems with the new bathrooms. But they're now complete.